Ryan Johnson is the founder and CEO of Cxmmunity Media, a media-tech company focused on future-proofing diversity in the esports and gaming industry by creating engaging, educational, and entertaining programming. After graduating from HBCU Oakwood University, Ryan’s passion for advancing the Black community in the sports and entertainment industries led him to evangelize education and economic advancement in these spaces. With this vision, he founded Cxmmunity Media, and then the HBCU Esports League, one of few Black-owned sports leagues, that provides students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities a safe space to compete and monetize in esports.
Ryan began his professional career as an Account Executive with Vonage Business. He was responsible for maintaining a client base that met monthly and quarterly metric goals. Shortly after he accepted a role as an IT Consultant with Adapture. Adapture is an award-winning IT firm located in Sandy Springs, GA. Winning CRN Tech Elite and Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter Awards, Ryan was able to quickly develop skills around business development, project management, and customer experience with corporate organizations.
Ryan’s dedication to equal access in esports and gaming garnered a partnership between Cxmmunity Media and Twitch, leading to over 40 million viewers and corporate sponsors such as Verizon, Discover, Hot Pockets, Nike/House of Hoops, and MTN Dew. The HBCU Esports League has provided over $1.2M in scholarships and gaming equipment to students and HBCU gaming programs. Ryan continues to build visibility for underrepresented creators and gamers through innovative partnerships while making a sustainable and positive impact on increased representation within the industry.
His community and service passions are centered on supporting the local community through volunteer service and mentorship programs. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Eta Lambda Chapter. Ryan is a member of his church’s basketball team.
1. Tell us about your company?
Cxmmunity Media Co. Is a media-tech company and collaborative team of thinkers and doers dedicated to future proofing Diversity and Equity in the gaming industry. We realized that 83% of Black or African American youth play video games on a daily basis, but only 4% of the video game workforce identifies as African American. This led Cxmmunity Media to launch the first-ever competitive esports and gaming league for the nations Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) named the HBCU Esports League.
2. Why from your perspective do you believe diverse storytelling is critical to driving business growth?
Diverse storytelling is vital for driving business growth for a number of reasons. Firstly, it broadens the appeal of a brand or product, reaching a wider and more inclusive audience. In the gaming and media industry, diverse storytelling resonates with gamers from various backgrounds and interests. We all thrive to find a sense of self and curating and telling diverse stories that reflect the world we live in and allows consumers to see a reflection of their own experiences and identities. When a company authentically engages with and represents diverse communities, it demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility. In turn, building stronger connections with its consumers, ultimately leading to increased loyalty.
3. How do you think brands can better work to support diverse owned media?
Brands should adopt a multi-faceted approach that goes beyond surface-level gestures. Brands can invest in long-term partnerships that extend beyond sporadic campaigns. Creating sustainable collaborations enable diverse-owned media outlets to plan, create, and promote content effectively, fostering a consistent and authentic presence. Brands should look to actively promote diversity within their marketing and advertising efforts, meaning featuring diverse voices, talent, and their stories in their campaigns, not as tokens, but as genuine representatives of the audiences they serve.
4. What do you hope for the future of diverse owned media?
We hope for a future where diverse-owned media is not only embraced but also celebrated as a driving force for inclusivity, authentic storytelling, and representation for all of society’s sub-communities in the media landscape, ultimately ensuring that the voices and perspectives of all communities are heard and valued.
5. What advice would you give marketers that want to work with you to authentically tell diverse stories?
To authentically tell diverse stories in the video game industry, markers should prioritize genuine representation. This means collaborating with diverse talent both behind and in front of the camera, additionally, as storyboards are being created to respect cultural nuances, and avoiding stereotypes. Understand the unique experiences of underrepresented communities and actively involve them in the creative process. Authenticity should never be compromised for the sake of profit; it’s a long-term commitment that fosters trust with diverse audiences and leads to more meaningful, impactful storytelling. When consumers trust the brand, consumers are loyal. A distrust in a brand means a loss in consumers.